Julie Medalie Heldman
Heldman is the only woman to captain U.S. teams in the Wightman Cup, Federation Cup, and Bonne Bell Cup; she won each Cup at least twice. Her most notable achievements include the U.S. Girls' 18, Italian, and Canadian championships. Julie competed hard in every match she played, even while battling through injuries. In Great Jews in Sports, she is described by author Robert Slater as, "one of the toughest competitors the game has known." She is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. Dec. 8, 1945
Julie is part of a large tennis family. Her parents Gladys Heldman founded World Tennis magazine and her father Julius Heldman, was the U.S. junior champion in 1936. Julie's sister Carrie Heldman was also an excellent junior player. Julie began playing tennis when she was eight and in 1958, when she captured the first of her three Canadian Junior Championships, she became the first 12 year-old ever to capture a national crown. Heldman went on to win the U.S. Junior Title in 1960 and 1963.
In the 1960s, Heldman was one of the top female players in the United States enroute to becoming one of the best in the world. Ranked No. 10 in the U.S. in 1963 and No. 7 the following year, she was a member of the USA Federation Cup teams in 1966 and 1969. After winning three medals in the 1968 Olympics (click here for Olympic profile), Heldman rose to her highest world ranking (No. 5) the following year, when she also won the Italian Open -- she was ranked No. 2 in the U.S. Julie also reached the semifinals in three Grand Slam events: the 1970 French Open, the 1974 Australian Open, and the 1974 U.S. Open.
In 1970, Julie was part of history as a member of the "Houston Nine" who left the USTA to play in the Virginia Slims Circuit tournament in Houston. Supported by Julie's mother, Gladys, the tour was so successful that it eventually merged with the USTA and became the current WTA. The first all-woman's tour, the Virginia Slims circuit eventually earned women the right to receive equal pay with men in competitions, and helped forge the future for women in sports.
After her tennis career ended, Julie was a color commentator on NBC, CBS, and PBS in network tennis telecasts. At the Avis Cup Challenge in 1976, Heldman became the first woman to broadcast men's tennis. She entered UCLA Law School in 1979 and was a top graduate in 1981. Julie is currently the president and co-chairman of Signature Eyewear, eschewing the practice of law in order to spend more time with her children. She was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.
5'7", 133 pounds
Use links below to navigate through the tennis section of Jews In Sports.
Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)
Great Jews in Sports, by Robert Slater (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)